Brainard Lake Recreation Area
Located on a long dirt road off of winding Hwy 72, Brainard Lake is a recreation area inside of Roosevelt National Forest. In the distance, the mountains inside Indian Peaks Wilderness and Four Lake Backcountry Zone offer beautiful views that were still snow-capped in July. We parked at the trail head past Pawnee Campground and hiked the heavily-trafficked path to Brainard Lake. After taking some family and landscape photos, we continued along the trail, crossed over the paved road, and hiked the more hidden Niwott Cutoff Trail to Long Lake. While on this path, we encountered a mule deer bedded down for the afternoon. Russell was able to photograph him from about 60 feet away before he decided that he didn’t want anymore human onlookers. This trail truly accentuated the beauty and wonder of nature that makes exploring so enjoyable.